Six years ago today, I lost you…Gone but never forgotten
My mom was very sick and hospitalized for the last 18 months of her life due to a complication (screw up) during a surgery she had. She was not able to eat or drink anything by mouth for the whole time she was hospitalized. She spent 8 of those months severed from family/friends at The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Those doctors were amazing and they did wonders for her, then she was returned to the doctors here and everything went down. In the end, she knew she was going to die and she confronted me and asked me to speak at her service. I told her there was no way I could do it, but she asked me to think about it. When she passed, I took time and wrote something, and someone else was going to read it, but at the last minute in church some force pulled me forward and gave me strength to read what I wrote. I even smiled while reading. People ask me how I did it and I honestly don’t know, but I felt like she was standing right beside me the whole time. I miss her soooo much!
This is what I wrote/read:
Someone we love is gone. Some of us have lost a trusted friend, a partner in worship, a listening ear, a sister, a Mimi. My sister has lost her confidante, and both of us have lost a rocksolid, faithful, prayerful mother, who will never again come for a visit, never again linger in quiet, thoughtful conversation, and never again leave Tupperware filled with her good cooking. I did some time travel last night—I needed to—and what I saw, most of all, was a remarkable mother, a very good gift to her children, someone whose life mirrored her convictions.
My mom was born October 22nd, 1956, to Elise and John Thibodaux. My mom grew up here in Choctaw. She had four sisters: Judy Adams, Sandra Ricouard, Joan Peltier, and Phyllis Cortez. They had a very strong bond. Although they didn’t always agree or “get along”, they always found a way to look past it and come together when times were tough and things had to be done. She loved her sisters so much and would tell stories of their mischievous ways when they were growing up. Judy was the good one, the one who did what was told, Sandra the accomplice who never wanted anyone in trouble, but always went along, Joan was the quiet one who was always there, and then there was Phyllis, the baby, who everyone looked after and was able to do things the others couldn’t. They were strong together, and watched out for each other.
My mom was the mother of two daughters. My sister and I both have our unique personalities with qualities inherited from my mom. My sister is the spontaneous, bold, feisty yet sincere replica of her. She is the fun one and always the life of the party. I on the other hand am the more reserved, and am always worrying about how others feel.
She has two son-in-laws, Andy and Nick. My sister is married to Andy Durocher and he and my mom had a strong connection. I can hear my mom now “Oh Lorena, Andy is a good looking man!” Lorena teases him about that all of the time. She had a place in her heart for him. In the last few weeks, my mom was living with my sister and Andy. One day when it was really hot, the AC went out. Andy came home while Lorena was out buying a window unit until the central could be fixed, well he went off on everyone. He was so upset that no one took my mom out of there. My mom refused to go anywhere, she was happy and content where she was.
I married Nick Pepper. He and my mom shared a passion for law enforcement. My mom lived with Nick and I as she went through the academy. She would come home and ask Nick one question about a certain topic that she learned about in class that day, and it would turn into a night’s discussion. Once they started, they wouldn’t stop. She would come to the firing range with us on the weekends and he was always more than willing to give her tips. She had a passion for what she learned and wanted to go so much further in her career.
She was the grandmother of five beautiful children: Patience, Dayton, Cole, Gracie, & Nicholas. When Patience was little, my mom took her everywhere. My mom did not like being alone, so when she had somewhere to go and no one would go with her, she would bring Patience. Patience was like her little doll. She loved to sew outfits for her and dress her up. They were two of a kind.
Dayton was the first boy in our family. He is so energetic. My mom also spent plenty of time with Dayton. She spoiled him as any grandmother would. He was the little boy that she always wanted. He was so kind and sincere. Once my mom moved in with my sister, she wanted to learn to play video games. Dayton would sit down with her and attempt to show her how it was done. She would try so hard, but could never really get it down.
Cole was her inspiration. My mom gave Cole the nick name “Coley Moley”, When he hears that name his beautiful big eyes get wide and sparkly and his smile seems never ending. My mom would keep him home with her on her days off, even though he was supposed to be at Day Care. They shared precious time together and it made her happy. When my mom was away in Cleveland, Cole would speak with my mom on the phone about faith and God. He is so educated in religion even at such a young age. He was my mom’s faithful inspiration.
Gracie and Nicholas were the youngest and although she was ill for the majority of the time, they still had a bond with her. When Gracie was a baby she would only sleep throughout the night when she was sleeping with MIMI. Nicholas began walking while my mom was at West Jefferson, she would cry at knowing what she was missing, but cherished the times that she did have with them. Just yesterday Gracie asked me, “Mommie is Mimi in heaven with Papa?” I said yes they are watching us right now. Gracie then looked at me seriously and asked, “Why are they watching us, don’t they have TV in heaven?” I could hear my mom’s laugh at that comment so clearly.
My mom was the godmother of two, Corey Ricouard and Whitney Peltier. Corey was the son that she never had. She loved him so much and to her last day never forgot him. When he was growing up, she would let him do things that his mom wouldn’t and would not dare to tell. When she spoke about Corey her eyes lit up and her smile grew wide. She was so proud of him and all that he accomplished. My mom was also very proud of Whitney and always wanted to hear about her, she questioned us often about what was going on with her.
• Through the eyes of a child I can see her pausing from housework to dance and sing with the music playing at the time. It usually was New Orleans Ladies by Louisiana Laroux. My sister and I would laugh at how silly she could be, and just how much she thought that she “could sing.”
• In my mind, now, I’m peering through a bedroom door, slightly ajar, where I see mom sitting in silence. She tended to be very private with her own personal feelings. Once she noticed that my sister and I were there, she wiped tears from her face and waved us in with the biggest smile. This was at the time of the passing of her grandfather. She held my sister and I tight and told us that he was now free and with the angels. “Well why are you crying, Moma?” “Because that is what my heart tells me to do, but you girls remind me of just how good life is.” For some time, I had forgotten about this, but now it seems to linger in my mind.
• Now I can picture her fixing dinner for the family, usually including some type of home baking. She was very creative and inventive with cooking, and it always turned out so well.
• And there she is working into the evening in the kitchen or at the ironing board or the sewing machine. When mom was awake, she was up to something. Never frenetic but always engaged.
• I can still hear mom’s questions. She knew just how to pose questions that conveyed, mysteriously, the only correct answer and why it made such good sense. She always knew how to get the truth from my sister and I, no matter how hard we may have tried to deny it.
• Our mother could be very serious when necessary; however she was mostly light and funny. She was fearless and she made us very proud to be her daughters.
• It is hard for me to believe she’s gone my primary influence, sustainer, supporter and wisest counselor has left me physically. Even to the end she was concerned about my sister and I. She endured hours without pain medication in order for my sister and I to get to her and know her decision. She made sure that the burden of that final decision was not placed on us.
• She was extremely smart, and had a great sense of humor. She loved to laugh. She had many friends and was incredibly loving and supportive. She was renowned among friends and family as an excellent cook. She was a great mother who was always there for my sister and I in good times and in bad. We miss her so much, because we used to be able to call her about any little thing, and she would talk to us about it, and if we needed it, give us advice. She was also our biggest cheerleader and applauded any achievement, no matter how small.
David Wilcox wrote a song that describes mom nicely. The song is called Kindness, one verse of which says:
I love your wisdom, your knowledge of the past,
your willingness to listen, your taste for what will last,
I love your compassion for the suffering and your solid happiness,
but it’s your kindness that I love best.
Today we look away no longer. Saturday night, I had the terrible experience of watching my mom slip from this life into the next. It would be hard for me to say which experience was more profound and compelling for me: watching my mother die or watching my sister watch my mother die.
I learned much about love last week, in those few short hours—much about the deep, deep love between a mother and her daughters and the love between sisters.
What happened Saturday night? Into what mysterious fellowship has Kathy been ushered? Does she now sleep until a Voice calls her forth, like Lazarus, on the Last Day? Or is she now fully, consciously present before God? I don’t know. But this I will profess: when death, “the last enemy” (1 Cor 15:26), is abolished and when God’s every promise is fulfilled, the reunion will be sweet and there will be joy.
Mom, you will always be our loving mother, our dearest friend. This is only a goodbye to your elegant dignified, worldly body. Your gifts will continue to sustain us until we meet again. We love you our darling mom. Thank you so much for being you.